Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the winter

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.

Those lines are from Christina Rossetti’s poem “In the Bleak Midwinter.” They’re so evocative of winter with its barrenness, its frozen landscape. I get cold quickly, so maybe it’s just me, but winter’s a hard time of year for me. I long for warmth and greenness and beauty: all the things that winter doesn’t have.

In short, I wish I were anywhere but here, in any time but this one.

And that’s how Rossetti starts her poem: with the earth hard as iron, water like a stone. It’s not where she ends, though. She goes on to say:

Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

Into the midst of all of this barrenness, Christ came. Now, I know that the actual date of Christ’s birth is debated, but let’s lay aside that debate for the moment. Because the image of Christ coming into the midst of a world that is winter is true. He came and made all things full of life.

It’s kind of humbling, isn’t it? Here I am, complaining about my cold hands, and there’s Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, coming down and being born as a human, to save us all. Not just us, but all of creation. How awe-some is that?

So, maybe in this cold season I should stop complaining. Maybe I should start trying to make just a tiny bit of Christ’s warmth in this frozen world. Maybe I should do what Rossetti says: “Give my heart.”


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